Central Okanagan benchmark home price falls for third consecutive month



For the first time in at least five years, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the Central Okanagan has dropped for the third month in a row.

Association of Interior Realtors released its July report on Friday, and it featured even more evidence that the housing market has cooled off substantially in recent months after running red hot through most of 2021 and the early part of 2022.

The benchmark cost of a single-family dwelling in the Central Okanagan last month was $1.06 million, which represented a relatively large drop of 4.7%. The benchmark hit a historic high of $1.13 million in April but has now slid in three consecutive months for the first time since at least the beginning of 2017.

AIR said the market in July simply returned to pre-pandemic activity, noting there were 1,196 residential unit sales across its region last month. That represented a 33.3% decrease from July 2021.

“Seasonally, it is not out of the ordinary to see a dip in sales in the summer, although real estate market activity across most regions in the province was below average last month, not just within the Interior,” AIR president Lyndi Cruickshank said in a press release.

“A number of factors, or even a combination of factors, such as the interest rate hikes, recommencement of travel and the school break, could all be reasons consumers pushed pause on their real estate plans as they focused on enjoying the hot summer days.”

Another reason for the price and sales decline is likely the number of homes available. There were 56.8% more listings across the entire AIR region in July compared to last year during the same month. There were 92.1% more listings in the Central Okanagan compared to 12 months ago.

“We are seeing inventory starting to accumulate, slowly moving upward to healthier levels of inventory, which is a welcomed relief for prospective buyers,” Cruickshank said. “However, the higher mortgage interest rates are still impacting the real estate market, with some home buyers finding it more difficult to qualify for mortgages.”

The benchmark price of a single-family home in the North Okanagan also dropped in July, falling from $798,500 in June to $774,400 last month. That price has fallen for the last two months, marking the first time it has gone down since April 2020.

The cooling market did not affect the benchmark price of townhouses in the Central Okanagan, as that figure increased 2.6% in July to $783,500.


The Association of Interior Realtors released its June statistics on Wednesday, and they showed the single-family benchmark price fell to $1,112,400 last month. That represented a 1.5% drop after a 0.1% decrease in May. The last time the Central Okanagan single-family price fell in back-to-back months was in October and November of 2018.

Residential real estate sales also slowed across the entire AIR region last month, a 30.3% decrease compared to June 2021 that the association blamed on Bank of Canada’s recent mortgage rate increases.

“It’s not unusual that mortgage rates are impacting market activity, specifically in the higher-priced markets,” AIR president Lyndi Cruickshank said in a press release. “This is what typically happens when interest rates move upward. It makes buying a home more costly, making what a purchaser can afford more limited.

“We are seeing this effect, particularly in what is typically a higher-priced home type. However, this shift is creating a welcome opportunity for buyers to slow down in their decision making, which is a welcome relief for many.”

An increase in listings also likely played a role in the single-family home price decrease in the Central Okanagan, as there were 1,046 homes on the market last month compared to just 267 in January.

“Our inventory is gradually picking up and supply is growing,” Cruickshank said. “This is benefiting both buyers and people looking to sell and move. As we don’t expect any relief in terms of interest rates in the coming days, one will have to anticipate the market while pricing properties correctly.”

There has been massive fluctuation in the Central Okanagan townhome benchmark price over the last few months. It increased 10% from April to May but then dropped 8% from May to June, settling in at $763,800 last month.

And one month after topping the $800,000 mark for the first time, the North Okanagan benchmark price for a single-family home dipped back below that line in June, checking in at $798,500.


A West Kelowna apartment building has been deemed the best in Canada by a national organization.

Carrington View Apartments, which is located on Majoros Road, captured the Rental Development of the Year Award at the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations’ National Rental Housing Awards earlier this month.

The CFAA is the national voice of the apartment housing industry in Canada and engages in advocacy on behalf of the industry as a whole. It also believes Carrington View Apartments was the best development of the year for its spectacular views of Okanagan Lake, great access to nearby outdoor recreational opportunities, and its focus on sustainability and environmental friendliness.

Highstreet Ventures built the 186-unit property to be net-zero energy ready, putting it well ahead of its time. The building is managed by Skyline Living, whose parent company is based in Guelph, Ont.

“We’ve gone with a totally holistic building approach,” Highstreet project co-ordinator Will Monforton said in a press release. “That means everything from low-(volatile organic compound) paints, where we source our wood and building materials and efficient construction to recycling materials, high-efficiency, all-electric heat and water heating and solar panels on the roof.”

Skyline Living also won the rental housing provider of the year award.

PC Urban wants to build six-storey rental building on Gordon Drive


More rental homes on way?

Vancouver developer PC Urban has plans to build a six-storey, mixed-use development at the corner of Gordon Drive and Lawrence Avenue.

The company submitted several applications to the City of Kelowna this week for the development, which would consist of a daycare, ground-level townhomes, and one-, two- and three-bedroom rental units on floors two through six. The developer says more than half of the homes would be suited for families.

There would be 192 units overall, including 91 one-bedroom, 74 two-bedroom and 27 three-bedroom homes. A courtyard is also included in the renderings that were submitted to the city as part of the proposal.

PC Urban has asked to rezone the property, whose address is 1603-1615 Gordon Dr., from commercial to high density, and it also wants to increase the floor area ratio to allow for the daycare.

The developer is also asking to add the residential rental tenure subzone to the project, which would allow for a 10% decrease in parking requirements.

There would be two levels of parking, one of which would be underground and the other on ground level.

Central Okanagan rent prices hit highest marks ever in September


Rent reaches new heights

School was back in session last month, which might explain why Central Okanagan rental prices in September reached heights never seen before.

According to the rental statistics from Castanet’s classifieds section, the average price of a one-bedroom home rented for a whopping $1,556 in September, which was up nearly $20 from August and was more than any other month since the numbers started being tracked. That figure was based on 70 listings.

It was the same story for two-bedroom homes in the Central Okanagan, which went for an average rental price of $2,205 in September. That was up more than $50 from August and, just like the one-bedroom price, higher than any previous month. The average price was based on 100 listings.

Last September, the average rental price of a two-bedroom home in the Okanagan was $1,940. A one-bedroom unit was going for an average of $1,268.

Single-family benchmark price in Central Okanagan near $1 million


Home prices take big jump

The benchmark price for a single-family home in the Central Okanagan has had its biggest percentage increase in four months.

The price, which represents a dwelling with typical attributes to those traded in the area, jumped 3% to $961,800 last month, according to statistics the Association of Interior Realtors released Friday. The benchmark price just 12 months ago was $692,800.

AIR said the region remains a seller’s market because of chronically low inventory, although the number of available single-family homes in the Central Okanagan actually increased from 485 to 501 in August.

“The market has slowed down slightly due to a chronic lack of inventory, but it’s by no means slow,” AIR president Kim Heizmann said. “Listings are at record lows and not replenishing to meet the high demand.

“This chronic shortage of supply is putting upward pressure on pricing and making it a strong seller’s market.”

There were approximately 3,000 active listings in August across the AIR area, which includes the Okanagan, Eastgate Manning Park, Revelstoke, Shuswap and South Peace River region. That was down 46% from the 5,556 that were active last August.

The benchmark price of a condominium in the Central Okanagan jumped 4.5% in August to $473,100, while the townhouse mark increased just 0.3% to $644,800.

It was a similar story for single-family homes in the North Okanagan, where the benchmark increased 2.4% to $682,700. On the other side of the coin, the townhouse price actually dropped 0.9% to $444,100.

Kelowna will be home to economic development satellite location


City scores PacifiCan office

City and regional officials are jumping for joy after the federal government chose Kelowna as one of the branch locations for the newly announced Pacific Economic Development Agency, also known as PacifiCan.

Mélanie Joly, who serves as the national minister of economic development and official languages, introduced PacifiCan on Thursday morning in Surrey. She also announced the creation of Prairies Economic Development Canada, which will help with business in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

It marks the first time in more than 30 years that the federal government has enhanced its economic development presence and services in Western Canada.

In addition to Kelowna, PacifiCan will have service locations in Victoria, Surrey, Campbell River, Prince Rupert, Fort St. John, Prince George and Cranbrook. It will build on Western Economic Diversification Canada, which has been around for 34 years, working closely with B.C. businesses, innovators, and communities; promoting connections and investments to foster economic growth; and helping organizations navigate federal programs and policies.

“As Canada’s most entrepreneurial region and a leader in economic recovery, Kelowna and the Central Okanagan is a natural fit for a branch office of PacifiCan,” Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said in a press release.

“This new agency and branch will build on existing momentum in our economy and ultimately create more meaningful engagement between regional businesses and the federal government.”

The Regional District of Central Okanagan Economic Recovery Task Force, Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, UBC Okanagan, Accelerate Okanagan and area chambers of commerce have spent the last year pushing for a Central Okanagan office branch location.

“We are thrilled by today’s announcement of a PacifiCan office in the Central Okanagan,” RDCO chair Gail Given said. “The regional economic recovery task force has encouraged the federal government to recognize the Central Okanagan’s economic strength by establishing a branch of the new agency in the region.

“We’re gratified that Minister (Mélanie) Joly has supported our request as demonstrated by today’s announcement.”

The feds announced their regional development plan in this year’s budget, when they pledged $553.1 million over five years for PacifiCan, starting in 2021-22, and $110.6 million ongoing.

The service locations in Kelowna and other B.C. communities will be launched over a period of months.

“British Columbia’s economy is growing and diversifying more each day, requiring a tailored approach that considers its needs and seizes its opportunities,” Joly said. “We are proud to be investing in the economic future of innovators, businesses, and communities across British Columbia with the creation of PacifiCan.

“For more than 30 years WD has done tremendous work in the West, and this is the beginning of an exciting new chapter.”

GetintheLoop now friends with BenefitHub, accesses US market


GetintheLoop gets into US

A Kelowna business success story has now made its way into the U.S. market.

GetintheLoop, which is Canada’s largest shop local platform, has partnered with BenefitHub, which bills itself as the largest employee lifestyle benefits company.

BenefitHub, which has 17 million members worldwide, will offer GetintheLoop content to its businesses, which will then pass on the local deals to its employees. The partnership will start in Nevada and Arizona.

“Our partner employers have long requested more local deals around their campuses and neighbourhoods where their employees live,” BenefitHub founder and CEO Seif Saghri said in a press release. “This partnership will give us a stronger and growing local offering.”

More than 5,000 businesses in Canada are customers of GetintheLoop, which has thrived in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The restrictions accelerated the need for local businesses to use digital tools to connect with consumers, and now the company will be able to do just that south of the border.

“We’re excited to jump-start the launch of GetintheLoop into the U.S. with a consumer audience of 10 million people and an amazing aligned partner in BenefitHub,” GetintheLoop founder and CEO Matt Crowell said.

Annual BC count takes place in June to better understand bats


Calling all bat counters

It’s time to be on the lookout for bats.

The BC Community Bat Program is asking the public to help count the number of little brown myotis bats, which are endangered in Canada. The annual bat count is held each June, when they are returning to their summer roost sites.

“The counts are a wonderful way for people to get outside, respect social distancing guidelines and be involved in collecting important scientific information,” Okanagan Community Bat Program co-ordinator and biologist Ella Braden said in a press release.

Volunteers wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat box, barn or attic, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. Ideally, one to two counts are done between June 1 and 21, before pups are born, and one to two more between July 11 and Aug. 5, when pups are flying.

The Peachland Historical School is one such roost, home to 1,500 Yuma myotis and little brown bats.

Last year’s count monitored 362 sites across the province, and the organization hopes to analyze even more this year.

The count helps biologists understand bat distribution and normal variation in colony sizes before they face impacts from a disease called white-nose syndrome, which affects only bats and hasn’t been found in B.C. It is, however, in Washington state.

“We know relatively little about bats in B.C., including basic information on population numbers” Braden said. “This information is more valuable than ever, particularly if it is collected annually. If people want to get involved but don’t have a roost site on their property, we will try to match them with a roost site nearby.”

To find out more about bat counts or white-nose syndrome, to report a dead bat or to get assistance dealing with bat issues, the public can visit www.bcbats.ca, call 1-855-9BC-BATS x13 or email okanaganbats@gmail.com.

Central Okanagan’s unemployment rate second best in Canada


The Central Okanagan’s unemployment rate fell in March, making it the second lowest mark in the nation among metropolitan areas.

The group of people without work last month in Kelowna and West Kelowna was 5%, which was down from 5.2% in February, according to Statistics Canada. Only Quebec City had a lower unemployment rate at 4.9%.

The Central Okanagan’s work force decreased by 2,600 people last month, and the participation rate, which is the percentage of eligible people working or looking for work, dropped from 64.5% to 63%.

The Thompson Okanagan’s unemployment rate in March was 7.3%, which is down from 7.5% in February.

Nationally, the economy added 303,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate dropped from 8.2% to 7.5%, which is the lowest it has been since the COVID-19 pandemic started more than a year ago. There were about 95,000 more retail jobs for the month, fully recouping losses sustained in January lockdowns.

There was also an employment bump of 21,000 in the accommodation and food services sector, which Statistics Canada noted still leaves that sector the furthest from a full recovery at 24.4%, or 298,000 jobs, below pre-pandemic levels.

— with files from The Canadian Press